K-12 Dealmaking: BrightBytes Acquires Authentica; Nelson Takes In Assets of Edusight
EDWEEK Market Brief

By: Alexa J. Henry
Original Post from EDWEEK Market Brief

A handful of companies have announced acquisitions in the K-12 space recently. And the Canadian publisher Nelson continues to make deals at a busy pace, following a series of announcements of partnerships with U.S.-based companies with a new acquisition closer to home.

BrightBytes Acquires Authentica: BrightBytes, San Francisco-based learning analytics organization, has acquired Authentica Solutions, developer of an education data integration platform as a service (IPaaS), according to an announcement.

BrightBytes’ Clarity platform, a decision support platform for K-12 educators, seeks to provide research-based analysis and organizes and deliver data across dashboards and reports. Authentica’s DataSense platform provides a single, unified approach to managing all data integration, transformation, and migration processes between all of an education organizations’ critical applications, according to the statement.

“Bringing these two companies together will, for the first time, give educators an end-to-end solution for data-driven decision making,” said BrightBytes’ CEO Traci Burgess.

The addition of Authentica to the BrightBytes family “will help education leaders cost effectively manage data integration and analysis, improve the quality of data collection, and free education institutions to use their data for the intended purpose of student achievement and success,” BrightBytes argued.

In an interview with Marketplace K-12, Burgess noted that the acquisition was the first for BrightBytes, and said that by combining the two organizations the company has “an opportunity to help support learning in the personalized learning environment for K-12.”

She declined to disclose the financial and structural terms of the deal but said “the two companies will have a full integration plan to work seamlessly together.”

As a result of the acquisition, Authentica CEO Russell Long will become the general manager of the DataSense platform and will report to Burgess; CTO Gene Garcia will become the CTO for DataSense. In addition, BrightBytes will maintain an office in Atlanta as well as their two current offices in Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

Nelson Acquires Technology Assets of Edusight: Canadian educational publisher Nelson has entered into an agreement to acquire the technology assets of digital portfolio company Edusight, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As its “first purely digital acquisition,” the deal” signals Nelson’s further investment in meeting the evolving needs of educators and students across the country, ensuring unparalleled access to the educational resources they need,” Toronto-based Nelson noted.

The purchase “enables us to help re-conceptualize the learning experience for both teachers and students, reinforcing our 100+ year connection to the Canadian classroom in a fresh and meaningful way,” said Steve Brown, Nelson president and CEO.

Edusight is designed to intuitively align with teacher workflow on both the web and via mobile app to provide visualization of data that leads to a better understanding of student learning, according to Toronto-based company, which has received venture capital funding from Imagine K12, the education vertical within Y Combinator.

The move is one of a spate of deals announced recently by Nelson. In May, the company agreed to acquire the K-12 business holdings of McGraw-Hill Ryerson, the Canadian subsidiary of McGraw-Hill Education. As a result of the acquisition, Nelson will take on all development, production, sales, distribution and marketing of the McGraw-Hill Ryerson K-12 portfolio in Canada, including the publishing and distribution of educational materials in both print and digital formats.

In fact, Nelson has formed a series of partnerships over the past year with U.S.-based K-12 companies to help that sell and distribute materials into the 5 million-student Canadian market. (EdWeek Market Brief members should see our recent story about the Canadian K-12 landscape, which describes Nelson’s dealmaking with U.S. providers.)

Nelson also recently unveiled a partnership with Microsoft “to explore the future of classroom learning for K–12 schools.”

Certica Acquires Unbound Concepts: Wakefield, Mass.-based ed-tech platform Certica Solutions has acquired Unbound Concepts, which provides an application that aims to help educators, librarians, readers and curriculum buyers search, browse and discover books, Certica said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition enables Certica to provide its network of ed-tech partners with the ability to tag and describe content using “artifacts”; and to embed content search capabilities into key applications, the company said.

“The addition of Unbound Concept’s app, dubbed Artifact, complements Certica’s Academic Benchmarks™ collection of over 3.9 million learning standards and taxonomic terms, utilized by nearly 200 education sector providers to enrich, align and power improved search of content. Both capabilities will be available to publishers, booksellers and educational system providers, such as learning management system (LMS) vendors, via the Certica Connect platform,” Certica explained.

“Unbound Concepts has made important connections between book publishers, distributors, buyers and educators, by creating a common language between those stakeholders,” said Mark Rankovic, Certica’s president and CEO. “We’re excited to execute the synergies between Artifact and our existing platform capabilities, to benefit our business partners.”

Abl Raises $7.5 Million: Ed-tech startup Abl has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding, led by Rethink EducationSinovation Ventures, Owl VenturesReach Capital, and First Round Capital also participated in the round.

In an email to EdWeek Market Brief, Abl founder and CEO Adam Pisoni—who previously served as CTO and Co-Founder of Yammer— said the company spent the past year developing its first product with a number of design partner schools. “This helped us get clarity on the problem and the demand,” he said. “What it’s shown us is that the demand for master scheduling solutions is high among all types of schools of all sizes and types.”

Abl raised the funding round to accelerate growth by hiring more engineers and designers to build out more of the product to handle more school use cases – especially elementary and district needs; invest in easier data integration and onboarding – including building out a larger customer success and implementation team; and expand the sales and marketing team to accelerate growth, Pisoni explained.

The company provides a school scheduling platform that aims to make “it easy to design and manage the daily life of a school through a simple, cloud-based system that eliminates the spreadsheets, magnet boards, and calendaring tools most schools use today,” according to the company.

Mystery Science Raises $2 Million: Mystery Science, a provider of lessons designed to inspire kids to love science, has joined accelerator Y Combinator and raised $2 million, the company said a blog posting on Medium.com.

In addition to Y Combinator, investors included Learn CapitalReach Capital, and 500 Startupsaccording to VentureBeat.

The company was started by Doug Peltz and Keith Schacht. Peltz is a former master classroom teacher, science department head and creator of an original science curriculum; Schacht was previously a product manager at Facebook.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking.